There was a handsome new trophy for the winner of the 1998-9 Solving Championship Final, held at Oakham School on 20th February 1999. The favourites for the title were past winners Jonathan Mestel and Michael McDowell, but there were other good solvers present, and surprising things can happen when solvers are under pressure. In the event, Jonathan won by a single point ahead of Michael, with Roddy McKay, Paul Cumbers, Ian Watson and John Taylor all 7 points behind and separated only by the time that each of them took to solve the 12 problems set by the Controller, Brian Stephenson. The diagram shows a two-mover by one of the country's leading composers, one of 3 two-movers that the solvers had to tackle in a mere 20 minutes.
Barry P. Barnes
American Chess Bulletin 1960
White mates in 2
White seems to have a choice of key (his first move): is it 1.Rdd3 or 1.Rfd3? Both moves wait for Black to commit himself. After 1.Rdd3? Black's moves 1...N any, 1...Rg8+ and 1...R else are met by 2.Rf4, 2.Bxg8 and 2.Rd4 respectively, but there is no reply to 1...Rd7! So only 1.Rfd3! will work, with 2.Rc1, 2.Bxg8 and 2.Rc3 to follow the three black moves given above.
The Society once again held its annual Weekend Gathering at the Hotel Antoinette in Kingston upon Thames, from 9th to 12th April 1999. As usual there were several visitors from abroad among the 40 or so problemists present, and, again as usual, they won most of the prizes for composing and solving. There was a novel competition involving detection. The Society’s bookseller, Peter Fayers, had produced a booklet containing original problems by composers at the event, but given without the composers’ names. In addition to solving and evaluating the problems, the object was to guess the composer of each one. The problem below was considered to be “the most entertaining”. It is a helpstalemate in 4: Black plays first and helps White to inflict stalemate on White’s 4th move.
BCPS Meeting, Kingston, 1999
Helpstalemate in 4
This is similar to the “losing game”: Black must sacrifice those of his pieces that cannot be otherwise prevented from moving: (Black moves first) 1.Re4 Nxe4 2.Bd6 Nxd6 3.Re1+ Kxe1 4.Kd4 Kd2=.
At its AGM held during the Kingston weekend, the British Chess Problem Society elected as its President the distinguished composer Michael Lipton. Professor Lipton is well known for his pioneering work in the two-mover in the 1950s and 1960s, and more recently for his investigations into what can be achieved in miniature form, i.e. with 7 units or fewer on the board. The diagram shows a good example of his work, a mate in 3 moves.
2nd HM., Israel Problemists' Association, 1955
White mates in 3
There is set play (what White could play if it were Black to move in the diagram): 1...Qe6+ 2.Bxe6 b6 3.Bd5; 1...Qc4+ 2.Bxc4 etc.; 1...Qc6+ 2.Bxc6 bxc6 3.Ra7. There is also a white try which nearly solves: 1.Re8? If now 1...Qe6+, White can play 2.Kc7+. If 1...Qc4+, 2.Kd7+. 2.Bxc6 still works after 1...Qc6+, but Black has 1...Qb6!, which thwarts White's plans. So only 1.Rxb7! will work, deliberately pinning the WR but setting up a battery (B+R) which can open when the BQ moves: 1...Qe6+ 2.Rd7+ Qxd5/Qc6+ 3.Ra7/Bxc6; 1...Qc4+ 2.Rc7+ etc.; and 1...Qc6+ 2.Rc7. Spread over the problem’s three phases (set play, try-play and play following the key) there are three pairs of replies to Black’s checks on e6 and c4.
This award, made in memory of one of Britain's most celebrated problemists, is given to the best problem by a British or Commonwealth composer published in Britain during a 2-year period, alternating between two-movers and three-movers. The following three-mover has recently won the award.
2nd Prize, The Problemist, 1996
(Brian Harley Award)
White mates in 3
The point of the problem lies in the third-pin of Black’s three pieces on e5, f5 and g5. White successively induces two of them to move away, thus leaving the third piece completely pinned and so allowing a pin-mate. But White must take care in selecting his continuation: playing the wrong one will not help his cause. The key 1.Bg1 threatens 2.Rc5+ dxc5 3.Qxe5. If Black plays 1...Bf6, the correct continuation for White is 2.Qd4+, and after 2...Nxd4 the Ne5 is pinned and 3.Bc4 is mate. If 1...Ne3, White plays 2.Bc4+, and now 2...N5xc4 leaves the Bg5 pinned, so that mate can be given by 3.Nxf4. (If 2...N3xc4, 3.Qd4.) The third thematic line of play runs 1...Nd3 2.Nxf4+ Bxf4 3.Qd4, the Nf5 being the pinned piece. (If 2...Nxf4 3.Bc4.) A study of this solution shows that White's second and third moves recur in cyclic fashion. There is also some by-play (play which is not part of the main theme but which arises naturally from the position): 1...Nxf3 2.Bc4+ Ke4 3.Nhf2; 1...Nc6 2.Rxc6 (thr. 3.Bc4) Bxf3 3.Bxf3; 1...b2 2.Qxa2+ Nc4 3.Q/Bxc4.